I think that anyone who has lived some life, and experienced some things, owes it to the universe to be a teacher for the people that come behind them. I mean, isn’t that the essence of humanity? Training the younger generations to survive accordingly? I certainly think so. Anytime I get the opportunity to teach or coach, I take it. I just so happened to have such an opportunity today.
I was on a phone call catching up with an old buddy of mine who happened to have some work that he needed to be done. I knew a guy, actually a guy who replaced me at the company in question when I left, who could do what my buddy needed to be done. Me being me, I said, “hey – call this guy, tell him you are my buddy, and he will hook you up.” Granted – me and this particular former “co-worker” had our moments in the brief time that we around each other, but this was years ago. I, like Elsa, let it go. I sincerely wanted to help this young guy move forward with his career by referring him business from a good friend. Good business, that he was destined to get, simply because I referred him – no matter what our past entailed. My buddy DID make that call, but conveniently left out the fact that he and I had been friends for 15-20 years, and just said that I referred him.
The guy that I REFFERED BUSINESS TO then proceeded to go on a rant about me to A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE.
My friend hung up on him. He then called me to describe the “obviously jealousy fueled rant”, and I quite literally saw red. Not because this pissant decided to spew forth a collective heap of bullshit about me – I know my reputation, and I own it. I saw red but because he did it purely out of spite, and to someone who I referred to him. Not a single bad thing he said about me was true, it was all designed to make himself look better by using me as a stepping stone.
Let’s talk about why that is TERRIBLE business:
1. Direct referrals are your LIFEBLOOD in a sales based industry. The VERY LAST thing you say is something negative, period – the end. It makes you look petty. Not the best first impression to make.
2. You never know who is on the other end of that call. This situation is a perfect example: the guy had no idea he was talking to a long-time friend of mine, so by being negative – especially about me – he assured himself that he would not get a penny out of a prospective client.
I quietly ended the phone conversation with my good friend, only after he got done detailing the rant and after I had sincerely apologized. Why did I apologize? I’ll get to that…
I did that funny thing I do when I get really mad.
I don’t yell.
I don’t throw stuff around in a fit of rage.
I get really, really quiet. And really, really still.
I surrounded myself with some happy thoughts. I collected myself.
Then I swiped my keys off of my desk, marched to my truck, broke a couple (several) traffic laws, and 15 minutes after I’d hung up the phone, I walked through the doors of the office where the pissant works…
There were a couple of people in his office (which used to be mine) when I walked in. Cutting him off in mid-sentence, I said, “Anything you can say behind my back – you can say to my face.” Now, although I didn’t raise my voice one single decibel over a casual conversation, based on the look on his face and his body language: I am almost certain he shit in his pants.
I went on, “I went out of my way to refer you business, and all you can do is drag my name through the mud and try to make yourself look better…”
He stammered something, I ignored him. “You see, you made me look bad – not by what you said, but simply by saying it. It makes me look bad when I refer someone business and they turn out to be such a spineless weasel that they will make things up about me to make themselves look better. NO ONE wants to do business with a weasel – whether they are my friends or not. You made me look like a douchebag by being one, and I WILL NOT tolerate looking like a douchebag.”
I stepped forward, and he wiggled a little in his chair. Adjusting the fecal matter, I assume.
“I am here to teach you 2 life lessons,” I continued. “The first is that in business, you never – ever- bite the hand that feeds you, even if you don’t know what hand is feeding you. Build yourself on your own merits, not by trying to stand on the backs of the people that were here before you.”
again, he tried to mumble an excuse, to which I quickly threw him an upraised index finger, in a “shut your effing mouth” gesture.
“The second lesson is exactly what I said when I walked into this room. Which was…” he just looked at me with that look that a dog makes when he hears a sound for the first time. I raised my voice a little, “And that lesson was?”
I took another step closer, and one of the terrified office occupants behind me started to speak, “If he can’t…” He got cut off with the same finger gesture.
Poopy pants got the gist, “If I can’t say it to your face, I shouldn’t say it behind your back.”
“Exactly”, I said with an exaggerated finger point, “EXACTLY”.
I quietly walked out of the room. Said “Hi” to a couple of former co-workers, stole a diet coke from the breakroom, and left.
NOW, I am not telling this story to portray myself as some kind of badass. I don’t care if you think I am a badass or not. In reality, there are only a couple of way you can figure out if I am a badass, and my ability to tell stories isn’t one of them. I am telling this because it is a legitimate lesson it today’s society. Too many people get away wit just slandering other people for the sake of making themselves look good. It is as sad as it is pathetic, and it wasn’t that long ago that it wasn’t tolerated.
You know why bullying is an epidemic? Because not enough of the bullied stand up to bullies. You wouldn’t think that someone who is scared enough of me to have potentially shat his pants in my presence could be a “bully”, but that is EXACTLY what he was trying to be. They are all around us, and because it is not fashionable anymore to punch someone in the face for their transgressions like it was 60-70 years ago. Not that I like punching people in the face, but hell, some people need it…